June 18 2003 12:00 AM

Pirate radio, and other local music news

Passion speaks volumes. Apparently my little fantasy piece about local pirate radio station 96.9FM didn't tickle the funny bones of the people who work at the joint. I guess stating that I was reporting rumors wasn't enough to tip off certain readers that the piece might be based on, well, rumors. Nor was my admission that I had never heard the station enough to spell out that I was, indeed, basing a whole lotta imagination around the only fact I knew-that 96.9FM was the signal.

Admittedly, I had one measly fact. But hell, I figgered-pirate radio's usually a cool thing run by cool cats. So I decided to make a little fantasy piece about the station and drive people to it. I was deluded or drugged enough to think that it might even make 'em joyful.

But alas, my piece was read with great consternation by the chaps at 96.9FM, who mistook it for investigative journalism. They took umbrage to my imaginary depiction of their organization, which is understandable. For that, I offer my sincerest apologies. So to clarify: the signal belongs to “Free San Diego Radio 96.9FM.” They are not FCC licensed. They are broadcast out of South Park all day. I have no proof that they smoke marijuana, nor that they have friends.

Though I'm in no position to be making requests, I do ask of those associated with the radio station: could we switch “goddamn douches in the media” to something less icky? Say, “feminine hygiene products”?


Local mood rockers Ilya have signed a record deal with Second Nature Records, which also put out tender crooner Rocky Votolato's last album. The band has started shooting a new video for their song, “Blatchford,” with local sonic nutcase Hans Fjellestad. Fjellestad, aside from being an avant-composer who creates music that sounds like the world being overtaken by groaning machines, also produced the Tijuana culture documentary, Frontier Life. Can't wait to see what demented videography results from those sessions. You can see bits of the video as it progresses on Fjellestad's website, www.zu33.com. To celebrate the new deal, Ilya will perform at Off the Record at 4 p.m. on June 18.

Though she's local only in the sense that she was once homeless here and now owns a mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, has anyone else seen Jewel's new video? Her much-touted reincarnation as a pop princess comes to full light in the video, replete with gratuitious T&A shots and Marilyn Monroe-esque oops-are-my-undergarments-showing? scenes. Of course, the video ends with Jewel realizing that the whole episode was only a daydream. She wishes-her most embarrassing moment is upon her (that is, unless she releases another book of poetry.)

Now without lead guitarist Marcos Curiel, P.O.D. have announced the release of their third album on Altantic Records due out later this year. The title of the release suggests that Sonny, Wuv and the rest of the boys are heading full-bore into their religious crusade (which was one of the contentions that led to Curiel's firing). It's called Payable On Death, which is, of course, the message behind their acronym of a name. During their final days with Curiel, one of the main sources of tension was that the band wanted to play full-on Christian festivals and steer their career even further in the direction of their Lord. Now, it seems, they've gotten rid of the only detractor and are taking the stairway to heaven. Sonny says on their website: “Payable On Death is a fresh new start, a going back to roots, a re-connecting with our people.” The album will be produced by their longtime collaborator, Howard Benson, and includes 17 tracks that the band says are their heaviest and most revolutionary to date.

Jimmy Lavalle, the sound scientist behind the blissful instrumental music of The Album Leaf, continues his quest to be San Diego's representative to the international indie community. Already having toured Europe and the U.S. with Icelandic art-rockers Sigur Rös, Lavalle will now assume bass duties for his pals in Black Heart Procession for their upcoming European tour. In August, The Album Leaf will embark on a short, two-week tour to preview the upcoming album on respected indie label, Arena Rock Recordings. After that, they'll fly to Iceland to independently record a new album with Sigur Rös at their now-famous Sundlaugin studio.

Kill Me Tomorrow have released a new 12-inch CD called Skin is Getting Weird on ex-local label, GSL Records. The 12-inch includes a Suicide cover and a remix of their song “Subtitle” and was recorded at Studio Disguise, the home studio of Black Heart Procession's Paul Jenkins. The trio has also finished recording their next full-length album, The Garbageman and the Prostitute, with producer Steve Revitte (Liars, Beastie Boys), which is due out on GSL in September. If you have not seen KMT, they are one of the most adventurous-and just plain good-bands in town. See 'em when they open for The Fall at the Casbah on June 19.

Local alt.country band of brothers Billy Midnight is back in business. After returning from a trip to Fiji and learning that their drummer Ben Cook is not leaving San Diego as was previously thought, they've reformed and plan to start doing local shows. Meanwhile, the two talented Shaddox siblings in the band have their own solo stuff going down-younger Billy plans to record some songs he wrote while in New Zealand, and older Bobby has a boy-band troubador solo project.

Groove jazz powerhouse Robert Walter's 20th Congress has decided on the lineup that will tour in the fall. Regular band members Robert Walter and Cochemea Gastelum remain the same; new members include New York drummer Joe Russo, bassist Mike Fratantuno and Will Bernard on guitar. Besides having a name that sounds like an Italian frat house, Fratantuno is the high-profile wild card-he's a permanent member of alternative hip-hop band Black Eyed Peas.

They're best known as the young tikes that blink-182 personally tapped to tour with them, Green Day and Jimmy Eat World on last year's “Pop Disaster Tour,” but local indie band Kut U Up is about to release an album that should raise awareness on their own terms. Rowboat Records will release the album, and a feature-length film will be released later this year by DreamWorks Pictures that stars the band.


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